Monday, June 18, 2007

Climate Facts

High price for load of hot air
The salient facts are these. First, the accepted global average temperature statistics used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that no ground-based warming has occurred since 1998. Oddly, this eight-year-long temperature stasis has occurred despite an increase over the same period of 15 parts per million (or 4 per cent) in atmospheric CO2.

Second, lower atmosphere satellite-based temperature measurements, if corrected for non-greenhouse influences such as El Nino events and large volcanic eruptions, show little if any global warming since 1979, a period over which atmospheric CO2 has increased by 55 ppm (17 per cent).

Third, there are strong indications from solar studies that Earth's current temperature stasis will be followed by climatic cooling over the next few decades.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Political Irony

Politics and irony were made for each other. Immigration reform has been a top priority of President Bush from the time he announced his intention to seek the Presidency. For his first six years as President, the leadership of George W. Bush helped increase the Republican majority in Congress. For these same six years, Republicans in Congress showed little interest in comprehensive immigration reform.

Most Democrats, who also wanted immigration reform, spent the first six years of the Bush Presidency attacking the integrity, character, and public policies of President Bush. The political tactics of personal destruction succeeded against President Bush in the 2006 elections as a Democratic majority was elected to Congress. Finally, President Bush had a Congress that was willing to attempt immigration reform.

There was just one little problem though. After six years of personal attacks against President Bush by his opposition, he no longer had the political capital and clout to persuade members of his own party to support new immigration legislation. Foiled again!

It’s weird how the war in Iraq has played a part in blocking immigration reform. It’s amazing how many checks and balances are built into the American political system.

Well done founding fathers.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Learning From Lincoln

Learning from Lincoln's Wisdom by William Kristol

Selected Excerpt:
The generation of World War II is mostly gone. The generation that directly heard tell of World War II from its parents is moving on. We have exhausted, so to speak, the moral capital of that war. Now we face challenges almost as daunting as those confronting the nation when Lincoln spoke. The perpetuation of freedom in the world is no more certain today than was the perpetuation of our free institutions then. Of course, we have the example of Lincoln to guide us. And Ferguson's wry and sardonic account of the ways we remember him is heartening and even inspiring, almost despite itself or despite ourselves. But the failures of leadership of the 1840s and 1850s should also chasten us. Nations don't always rise to the occasion. And the next generation can pay a great price when the preceding one shirks its responsibilities.

Cracks in American Politics

It’s probably better for America in the long run that the immigration bill has stalled in the Senate. Something needs to be done to address the problem of illegal immigration, but sometimes doing nothing is better than doing something when the something that you do has a good chance of making matters worse.

I don’t see any winners or heroes in the immigration debate. I believe President Bush was noble in his attempt to fix immigration, but I also think his primary argument was flawed. The reason there are jobs Americans won’t do is because there are employers who will not pay the price to have jobs done by legal American citizens.

I kept waiting for a spokesperson on either side of the debate to make compelling arguments for their side. I heard and read a few reasonable arguments on both sides, but I primarily heard and read appeals to emotion, with very few appeals to reason. Compassion for our fellow human beings has to be balanced by justice with long term expectations and consequences.

The debate over immigration has also exposed some real cracks in our political system. Congresspersons who base their political position on who donates the most money to their campaign, or which constituency shouts the loudest in opposition, or even which position is held by the majority of voters are not doing their job with honor. It’s not good for America when money, the vocal minority, or the tyranny of the majority determines public policy.

The job of a congressperson is to do what is right for America in the long run. For very good reasons, America was never intended to be a pure democracy. Citizens with core values, principles, and morals are supposed to elect representatives with similar values, principles, and morals and then the representatives are supposed to legislate based on these values, principles, and morals. When self interest is the primary value of those doing the electing, then self interest will be the primary value of those getting elected, and public policy will be based on individual selfish interests.

Is selfishness the legacy of the American experiment? Where are the American statesmen in the mold of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy? Where are the heroes? I have no doubt that many of our soldiers returning from Iraq will be the real leaders of the next generation. However, I worry that none of them will ever get elected.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Why no one's making more gas

CNN Money of all places:

In short, investors, like the oil industry itself, are concerned that refining will one day revert to being a barely profitable business.

"These guys don't want to put money into a business that's historically cyclical," he said.

Over the last 25 years, McKee said the S&P 500 has generated percentage returns somewhere in the low teens, while refining has returned about half that.

"There's a good reason there's been some discipline in the capital markets," he said. "It's been a pretty tough story over a long period of time."

Monday, June 04, 2007

Deport them all?

I can understand why many American citizens would want to deport adults from other countries who as adults came to the United States illegally or stayed in the United States illegally. However, I don’t understand Christians who want to deport everyone who is in the United States illegally. What about all of the illegal immigrants who were brought illegally to the United States by their parents as a child?

Not all illegal immigrants are the same. Do we deport someone who is now 18 years old who was brought illegally to America as a 2 year old and who has no other home except America? What about a 20 year old who was brought as a 5 year old? A 25 year old with a college education and a job who was brought as a 10 year old? Don’t some compassionate and reasonable exceptions need to be made in deciding the fate of illegal immigrants? Does anyone have a good reason for deporting those who were forced to migrate illegally by their parents?